Tag: South Asia Times

BUDGET 2020-21: “500 hours free English classes’ must in spouse & spouse visa sponsor requirements; changes to apply mid-2021

Budget pix

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 8 October 2020: The Federal Government seems determined to push its know English plans for new migrants as indicated in the Budget 2020 presented by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Many new migrants with a Permanent Residency who plan to get married soon or whose spouses are still overseas might well need to brush up their English skills to join their loved ones.

The new essential English requirements for those applying for the visa for their spouse and themselves will need about 500 hours of English language requirements before living permanently in Australia, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has told the ABC radio on 6 October, reports the AAP.

The Minister feels these changes in the Budget2020 would help support social cohesion and economic participation, while better protecting vulnerable people from controlling or exploitative partners.

Associate Professor Marie Segrave, Deputy Director Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre, Faculty of Arts has refuted claims by Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge and the Prime Minister that without sufficient English language skills migrants are vulnerable to family violence, as untrue and unfair.

In a statement emailed by Medianet Marie Segrave says, “We know that temporary visa holders are disadvantaged by the migration system preventing and limiting access to support in the context of family violence and that this has been compounded by COVID-19 and their exclusion from Job Keeper and Job Seeker.

What we see in the Budget is the further exclusion of women via sponsor checks and language requirements. The potential damage of this is to continue to exclude many more women from support who are already married and/or have children with their abusive partner.

Instead of making changes to ensure access to the full suite of financial, housing, medical, and other support, these changes flag an effort to exclude women.”

In a statement Labor while slamming the changes says, “The Morrison Government’s Budget promise to increase the number of partner visas is just another empty announcement until they actually deliver for Australians and the people they love.

The Morrison Government has not explained how their new English language requirements for partner visa applicants and their permanent resident sponsors will impact applications – both those waiting to be processed and new applications.”

The Subcontinent Friends of Labor, Victoria (SCFOL) in a post on it’s Facebook page questions the proposed changes saying, “Subcontinent Friends of Labor Victoria (SCFOL Vic) is concerned to see the proposed English language requirement for partner visas by the federal government in #budget2020. How is this relevant to who Australian’s choose to marry? What does it say about our multicultural society? Who was consulted about this change? Why does the permanent resident sponsor need to undertake an English test for their partner’s visa?

Earlier, PM Scott Morrison told a virtual multicultural media conference on 7 Oct, ” English unifies the country and it enables us all to connect both economically and socially and so that’s why we believe that’s an important step that needs to be taken’.

Commenting about the changes Bina Shah of IAEC Education & Migration says, ” Clients are anxious. If a permanent resident marrying overseas looks for an English proficient spouse then things can go upside down. One will have to say no to a would-be spouse even if you want to marry him or her because of English.

Also, the 500 hours of free English teaching will take place where? If the intending spouse is overseas then will he or she have to attend private or stipulated classes and bear the massive costs? So, it looks, people will marry the person they love or want to and go in for English classes pushing up the cost of bringing your spouse here.”

“These issues need to be addressed before the new policy is introduced next year,” she says.

The AAP report says the changes will not be introduced until the next mid-next year and will only affect people who apply after the changes are introduced.

Mr. Tudge told the ABC there were almost one million people living in Australia with poor or no English and that language skills were necessary for finding work and staying safe.

He said, “And we want to encourage everybody to be able to learn English so that they can fully engage in Australian life, in every aspect of it, from employment markets to our democracy, to our society, to community activity.

English is absolutely essential in order to do all of that.”

In a media statement, Mr. Tudge says, ” Most partner visas are a provisional visa of two years before becoming eligible for a permanent visa. The requirement will have to be met at the time of the granting of the permanent visa.

While the ability to speak multiple languages is a great asset for an individual and for Australia, a person will struggle to fully participate in our society and democracy without basic English.”

(Story to be updated soon)

Indian matchmaking fraught with sexism, class and caste issues

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Are all Indian weddings happy song-and-dance parties with friends and family? Not for most women, who need to tick a lot of boxes on the marriage checklist to qualify for the promise of eternal love.

In July this year, Netflix began streaming a documentary series called Indian Matchmaking. The show became very popular for its depiction of arranged marriages in India and among Indian expats in the US. For the uninitiated, arranged marriages are common practice in South Asian countries, where families decide who their children will marry. Indeed, as one character in the show sums it up, an Indian marriage is not just a union between two people, but “between two families.”

The documentary provides hilarious insights into all the contrivances that go into bringing a couple together, but young women like Nanki*, who spoke to DW, say the memes and jokes around the show serve as reminders of instances where women are deemed “unsuitable” for marriage in a society fraught with issues around caste, class, and gender-based discrimination.

Nanki was brought up to conform to an image of the ideal wife and daughter-in-law, a process that only diminished her self-worth. ”From a very young age, my parents told me that when I grow up, they would find a boy for me to get married to. I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend till the age of 23,” she said.

A deal of sorts

The traditional Indian arranged marriage is essentially transactional. The ‘boy’ and ‘girl,’ as men and women are referred to in marriage parlance, are expected to tick certain boxes on a checklist – a set of requirements that are steeped in conventional gender roles. 

For example, the man is expected to be the primary provider for the family and must be financially secure. In other words, he should either have a well-paying corporate position, a ‘secure’ government job or a large inheritance to fall back on. The woman, on her part, must have traditional values, good cooking skills, good looks and a slim figure. Education matters, of course, but she shouldn’t be ‘too’ educated or perform better than her husband professionally.

Sukanya, who has been married for around two years now, says her weight was always a concern, especially since it affected her performance in the marriage market. “All my life, I’ve fluctuated between chubbiness and mild obesity. I was repeatedly told that I had several attractive qualities like intelligence, a pleasant and caring disposition, a great education, good hobbies and good family background – all except the appeal that comes with a slimmer physique,” she told DW.

“In the words of parents and well-wishers, once I lost a little weight, I would be an excellent prospect for any respectable family.”

For Nanki, the path to being a good match has been more difficult. Not only did she have to lose weight, she was also told to abstain from alcohol, stay away from other men, not dance too much and not speak too loudly. “And god forbid, if you smoke, you’re never getting married,” her family said.

It’s all about the lineage

A family’s position in the caste system is another issue that often comes up during marriage negotiations. Earlier, marriages within one’s caste were considered important to maintain the ‘purity of the bloodline,’ but today, many families argue that the bride and groom find it easier to adjust to life together if they choose partners from the same caste.

In fact, most communities prefer to filter prospective partners for their children based on caste before even looking at the candidates themselves. In other words, a woman and a man of the same religion cannot get married unless they are from the same social group.

For example, Nanki’s mother says that her daughter can marry any man from a warrior caste, like a Rajput, but not a man from the lower mercantile or baniya caste. Marrying a Muslim is out of the question.

For others however, social status plays a more important role than caste or religion. “I am a Punjabi Hindu but I married into a Jain family,” Sukanya explained. Jains are followers of the fifth century saint Mahavira and are a separate religion, albeit with similarities to Hinduism.

“My parents laid more emphasis on finding me a partner from a traditionally ‘cultured’ family, preferably with the same (or better) socio-economic status as themselves,” she told DW.

Love conquers all

Indians often take pride in the fact that the country has a divorce rate of less than 1% and are quick to attribute the low numbers to arranged marriages, which they say foster patience and the spirit of compromise. But fewer divorces also point out to the stigma attached to separating from one’s spouse, especially for women.

In Nanki’s words, “My parents often say compromise is very important for a marriage to work. Divorce isn’t something that is looked upon kindly in Indian society. ”

For many married couples, living in an unhappy marriage and accepting physical and mental abuse is a better option than being divorced. In fact, women are, in many cases, expected to accept abuse as a part of life.

“Once my father beat my mother and she left the house,” Saloni recalled. “I asked him, ‘If I get married and my husband beats me up, would you ask me to put up with it?’ He replied, ‘Of course. You are married to that person. You have to make it work…A man is a man, and a woman is a woman.”

Somebody to lean on

As times change, many young people are looking at arranged marriage as an alternative to dating. For them, the matchmaking process – of looking for love with the intention of getting married – helps them meet new people who have similar expectations from life. 

Sometimes, the ‘courtship period,’ during which a couple meets with their parents’ approval, lasts a year or two. As a result, the partners get to know each other well before tying the knot and marriages like Sukanya’s have been successful. 

Others, like Saloni, have crossed the age considered appropriate for an arranged marriage but are financially independent and willing to look for their own partners without any interference from their families. Her parents ‘ arranged marriage has left her wary of the institution and being single for so long is, for her, a small act of rebellion against the misogyny perpetuated by society.

However, this doesn’t mean she has lost her faith in love – she wants to get married one day, but on her own terms.

*All names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Source- dw.com

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TECHNOLOGY: Apple is trying to reclaim its major innovator status (by making you wash your hands)

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Photo: Apple

By Margarietha de Villiers Scheepers, Senior Lecturer Entrepreneurship and InnovationUniversity of the Sunshine Coast & Martie-Louise Verreynne Professor in Innovation and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, RMIT University

Market commentators view Apple’s announcements at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 (WWDC) as one of the company’s most important strategic moves of the past decade.

Among the key announcements were details of the watchOS 7 – with a pandemic-inspired handwashing detection feature – and plans to end Apple’s reliance on Intel for Mac processing chips.

While Apple still views itself as an innovator, critics point out many of its product innovations in recent years have been incremental – with calls for an entirely new product category. And consumers have been finding it increasingly hard to distinguish between Apple and competitors like Samsung.

Will we ever again see something from Apple that truly changes the market?

We think Apple’s newest updates may be early signs it is, in fact, looking to get back on the map as a “business model innovator”. This describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value through business activities.

As the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School professor Raffi Amit explains, Apple has renewed its business model many times – from changing the music industry with Apple Music to creating a community of independent app providers through the App Store.

A pro-hygiene smartwatch
In today’s COVID-19 world, Apple’s new watch OS7 (expected to be released later this year) will offer automatic handwashing detection.

Motion sensors, the microphone (which will listen for water sounds) and on-device machine learning will detect when a user is washing their hands. The watch will then start a 20-second timer.

By monitoring the frequency and duration of handwashing, preventative health care will be in the hands of users.

Apple uses its wealth of consumer trend data, combined with advances in machine learning, data, and analytics to offer an intensely human experience to suit users’ lifestyles. By focusing on the customer’s journey, Apple is in a unique position to create products with superior customer value.

For the WatchOS 7’s handwashing feature, the customer journey starts by reminding users to wash their hands when they get home. The health app monitors the process, even detecting if a user stops prematurely. By focusing on each step of this “journey”, Apple aims to provide peace of mind and address customer anxieties during the pandemic.

In the market of fashionable wearables, Apple’s smartwatch dominates. Last year, the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry.

In line with a strong trend towards personalization, Apple’s WatchOS 7 also offers customizable watch faces, sleep tracking, improved workout apps with dancing, and several built-in acoustic health features such as monitoring ambient sound levels.

Breaking up with Intel
Apple’s long-awaited breakup with Intel was confirmed at the WWDC 2020. Chief executive Tim Cook announced the company’s plans to transition to using its own Apple silicon processors for Macs.

Currently, Mac computers operate with Intel’s x86 desktop chips. By 2021, these will be replaced with the custom-designed processors’ Apple has already been using in newer iPhones and iPads – spelling the end of a 15-year partnership between Apple and Intel.

The move is part of Apple’s continued strategy to gain as much control as possible over its product ecosystem and development processes. It could also be seen as a reaction to Intel’s hesitance to meet its requirements.

Intel has fallen behind in the industry’s race to miniaturize and has experienced production delays and shortages. Apple’s new processors promise more power efficiency, are lighter, and have superior performance for 3D graphics and for apps using artificial intelligence.

Similar to other tech giants, Apple is expanding its capabilities not just through acquisition, but also by developing its in-house capabilities.

And while the Apple-Intel partnership only amounted to 5% of Intel’s overall sales, the breakup will still impact Intel’s image as a market leader in chip manufacturing.

Read more: Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro wants to take your laptop’s job (and price tag)

An insulated ecosystem
It’s likely the decision from Apple signals their intent to exert more control over developers, suppliers, and customers through the Apple product ecosystem. Indeed, Apple’s tendency to entrench its customers in this ecosystem has raised concerns.

For instance, larger players like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Kindle have been fighting back against Apple’s policy of forcing users to use Apple pay to purchase their apps, which sees Apple collect up to 30% of the revenue upfront.

While companies such as Netflix can reach users independently through online marketing, smaller app developers are forced to pay the Apple tax of 15-30%.

Still a leading innovator?
At the WWDC, Cook framed the newest announcements as evidence of Apple’s ongoing commitment to innovation.

For many consumers, the most exciting updates will be Apple’s new internet-based technologies. These include spatial audio for AirPods Pro, a feature that creates a more realistic surround sound experience and the new CarKey function which will be compatible with the 2021 BMW 5 Series. This will let drivers unlock and drive their car using their iPhone, thanks to a specialized NCP (network co-processor) chip inside the phone.

It seems Apple does want to excel as a business model innovator. The company’s innovations – even when incremental – still drive product value. And this is used to turn profits which can then be reinvested into broader business model innovation.

This may be why shareholders and enthusiasts remain confident about Apple’s future.

The article first appeared in The Conversation.

Used under the Creative Commons Licence.

US Immigration groups slam decision to suspend H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1 visas till December 31, 2020

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Photo=ACLU

By Peoples Dispatch

The decision of the US government to suspend a variety of immigration visas until the end of the year has been widely criticized by immigration rights organizations. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 22, Monday. The move effectively extends a previous 60-day visa ban imposed by the administration in April due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order signed on Monday suspends any new applications for H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1 visas until December 31, 2020, with a few exceptions under H-2B for those working in agriculture and seafood processing industries. Representatives from the administration have told the media that close to 525,000 jobs in the US will be cleared up for US citizens with the move.

The US is currently facing its biggest unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. Over 15 million workers have suffered job loss or work loss since February, and the unemployment rate is estimated to be anywhere between 13% to 17%. Of these, 6.3 million are deemed to have exited the labor market.

Officials in the Trump administration have been pushing for a blanket ban on immigration, claiming that it will prevent foreign competition in the labor market, and have suggested this as a means to deal with the massive job losses.

The move has been strongly opposed by the tech industry bosses, who depend on a foreign pool of professionals for much of their postings. The order will also put thousands of researchers and foreign students in a lurch, especially those under the study-abroad and work-abroad programs.

The order allows those with valid visas to continue to be in the US. However, immigration lawyers have pointed out the lack of clarity in the order, with insufficient details provided for those workers who are stranded abroad and whose visas are set to expire.

The National Immigration Forum has decried the order as an attempt to divide communities. “Extending and expanding a ban on immigrants does not address the challenges our nation faces as we begin the long recovery from COVID-19,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the forum, in a statement released on Monday.

“Advancing the false narrative that immigrants are competitors only serves to undermine the trust and unity needed to recover quickly and effectively from the pandemic and its economic effects,” Noorani added.

How is China responding to coronavirus outbreak? (VIDEO)

The recent outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus has already affected nearly 2,800 people in China, mostly in the Wuhan city of the Hubei province.

January 27, 2020, by Newsclick

The recent outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus has already affected nearly 2,800 people in China, mostly in the Wuhan city of the Hubei province. The virus has also spread to other countries with a handful of cases being reported from Japan, the US, Canada, Taiwan, Nepal, etc. In this discussion, NewsClick Editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha talks about the virus, how it spreads, and the measures are taken by the Chinese government to contain it.

Source- Newsclick